Is taking laundry powder across national borders by plane likely to cause any problems?

I'm not worried so much about airport security, as border protection forces mistaking it for heroin.

I'm travelling to Hong Kong, Mongolia, South Korea, Japan, and China, but not to the USA.

  • 1
    @Berwyn similar and relevant, but not identical.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Jul 24, 2016 at 8:04
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    It seems very similar and has several useful references in the answers. I'll leave it for others to judge. Nobody knows what's the definition of a dupe any more...
    – Berwyn
    Commented Jul 24, 2016 at 8:06
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    Laundry detergent doesn't have the same physical properties as that of heroin or other "white power" drugs. For one, there is the smell of it - second, the texture and weight. Believe me, customs officials are keen on this - as smugglers will often try to disguise drugs as other things. So they are keen on what is what. Further, the dogs won't alert to detergent either. Commented Jul 24, 2016 at 9:22
  • @BurhanKhalid I don't think it really matters what the powder is, I took the question as asking if carrying white powder is likely to result in delays or strip searches or something, no matter how innocent it is
    – Berwyn
    Commented Jul 24, 2016 at 10:23
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    Try hiding your laundry powder in with your cocaine so it doesn't stand out. Commented Jul 24, 2016 at 11:48

1 Answer 1


No, it is not.

They will take a sample and run it through an opioid test; which looks like this (image from Sirchie):

enter image description here

Next, they will probably wonder why on Earth would someone carry laundry powder in their luggage.

The people you need to worry about are customs enforcement, and not border protection (although sometimes, these are the same agencies).

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    Laundry powder is actually a really common thing to carry (I always brought some along as a backpacker, and still do when travelling with the kids) and its smell and texture are very distinct. Customs won't bat an eye, particularly if you buy small travel-size single use packs (protip: these are good for a few washes!). Commented Jul 24, 2016 at 10:36
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    This of course assumes the test doesn't misidentify the laundry powder as a narcotic. There was a recent New York Times article raising concerns about the false positive rate of such tests, and the consequences for those wrongly accused. Commented Jul 24, 2016 at 13:04

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